Inventing an independent Foreign Policy
Rasheed Hasan Khan
More than six decades after the birth of Pakistan, the powers that be, have deemed it expedient to re-formulate the foreign policy of Pakistan. The reasons for this change of heart, albeit belated, is not difficult to see. The foreign policy, which the most allied ally of the U.S. has been zealously pursuing for the last six decades, had driven the country into a blind alley, with no alternatives at its disposal. This did not come as a surprise to the progressive and nationalistic forces in Pakistan. They had, all along been opposed to the ruling class’s penchant for serving Imperialist interests through a foreign policy which was lop sided and did not serve the interests of the Pakistani masses. The dismal story of joining various U.S. sponsored Pacts (S.E.A.T.O. & C.E.N.T.O.), the gratuitous involvement in the cold war on the side of U.S. Imperialism, the disastrous economic and political results of entrapment in the debt-trap of “U.S. Aid” and machinations of international monetary agencies, briefly outlines the journey of Pakistan, from British Colonial domination to the U.S. Imperialist stranglehold. Thus, the country was miserably impoverished; its national fabric destroyed and at the regional and international level, it was totally isolated.
Even so, the ruling classes did not deem it necessary to consider a change in policy. There were some feeble protests off and on but the paradigm and priorities of policy making remained the same. The U.S. policy after 9/11 in 2001 and the notorious “War on Terror” brought a new wave of economic ruin, social dismemberment, death and destruction to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Government of U.S.A. had browbeaten an already isolated military dictator into jumping onto its military bandwagon. But the true nature of the ‘Pak-U.S. military co-operation’ was soon revealed to the world. The $1.5 Billion a year promised by the U.S. government to Pakistan as ‘aid’ in the ‘War on Terror’ was nothing more than the price paid for the mercenary services of Pakistani military forces! This client and proprietor relationship soon became an endless source of friction and acrimony. The U.S. civil and military personages are on record with their exhortations of ‘DO MORE’ and the taunting invitations to refuse U.S. Aid if the Pakistani side found the conditions unacceptable. The U.S. leadership needs to remember a lesson in realpolitik which they never seem to have retained in their minds. Their adventures in Viet-Nam, Middle East and Africa all proved irrefutably that the comprador element in any third world country may do anything for the imperialist power, except commit suicide as a class. What the American leadership was demanding of the Pakistani ruling classes was nothing short of this. Therefore the ‘alliance’ was doomed and a new framework for mutual relations had to be constructed by the Pakistani ruling classes.
Thus the Parliament was convened to restructure relations with the U.S. and re-invent an independent Foreign Policy. The Parliament has created an all parties committee, the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (P.C.N.S.) to discuss and decide on the various issues and options presently available. The recommendations of the committee, appearing in the various media are at this stage only proposals; it may be some time before they are given a concrete shape. However, there is one fact to be kept in mind, in Pakistan the gap between legal dispensation and political reality is often a very large one. As the saying goes, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let us hope that the future reality in the field of foreign policy is at one with the ideals of an independent sovereign state.